Ruben Loftus-Cheek is brimming with confidence ahead of the upcoming World Cup with England but when speaking to the press yesterday, the Chelsea man gave an indication that he expects to be playing first-team football from the start of the 2018/19 campaign.
Having made the switch to Palace on a season-long loan last summer, the then 21-year-old could have been forgiven for having one or two doubts about his ability to mix it with the Premier League’s biggest and best from week to week. Having amassed a total of just 32 appearances in the previous three years at Chelsea (the majority of which had come off the bench) Ruben saw the move to SE25 as the perfect opportunity to make a lasting impact and now sits as part of Gareth Southgate’s England squad as a direct consequence of his performances since August.
That said, discussions about the youngster’s future prospects within the Blues’ first-team have merely been kicked a little further down the road by his England selection, leaving him to have some make-or-break discussions with the people who matter behind the scenes at Stamford Bridge once England’s run over in Russia has reached its conclusion.
With manager Antonio Conte’s future looking highly likely to lay away from the King’s Road, questions will have to be asked by Loftus-Cheek’s representatives as to where he fits in the club’s long-term plans. Having had a prolonged taste of what life is like in the top flight when playing from week to week I don’t think anyone can blame him for wanting it more and if that isn’t guaranteed by the Chelsea hierarchy, his words give the impression that he wouldn’t be against moving away to get it.
Of course, the man himself won’t want to be drawn into any conversations which take his focus away from the immediate task at hand with England but in just a few weeks, the hype surrounding the tournament will subside, leaving him at a potential crossroads in a career which has the potential to take him to the top of the game.
I know where I’d like to see him playing his football once the new season gets underway…